In the Philippines, airline miles are like hidden gems. Only a small niche knows exactly how to use them to their full potential. With enough airline miles, you can fly for free on whichever airline those miles are accredited to.
That being said, it does take quite a number of miles to redeem one flight. For example, economy flights with Philippine Airlines cost at least 12,000 Mabuhay miles. Fortunately, there are many ways to earn airline miles in the Philippines—some of them are somewhat very passive!
In this article, we’ll share with you what we consider as the best ways to earn airline miles in the Philippines! Start collecting now and book a first-class flight soon!
Use Your Credit Card
The only way that you can earn airline miles is through your credit card. No credit cards, No credit card points, no airline miles.
Make it a habit to only pay for things using your credit card. By always using your credit card in all of your expenses, you can accumulate, little by little, points that you can convert into airline miles. Pay for your utility bills, groceries, gas, tuition fees—everything through your credit cards (as long as it stays well within your credit limit). Every transaction you make will net you a set amount of points.
Take note that some credit cards reward bonus points or better conversions when you use it on specific transactions.
For example, the Metrobank Travel Platinum Visa has A PHP20.00 to 1-point conversion rate when used for any local transaction. However, if you use it for online or overseas purchases, the conversion rate changes to PHP17.00 to 1-point. To some, the PHP3.00 difference is small, but it adds up to big numbers in the long run.
Here’s a more true-to-life example. Based on the Philippine Statistics Authority, the average annual income of Filipino families during 2018 was around PHP 313,000 while their expenditure for the same year was at PHP239,000.
Using this as a baseline, here’s the minimum number of points that you can earn in one year based on specific Cards:
Citibank Premiermiles = 7967 Citi Points. You can use these in their over 60 airline partners.
Metrobank Travel Platinum Visa = 11950 potential miles. These miles can be converted into Mabuhay Miles, Asia Miles, or Krisflyer Miles.
EastWest Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer World Mastercard = 6639 KrisFlyer miles.
A year’s worth of regular expenditures where you don’t have to buy anything extra will net you these amounts of miles. Keep in mind that this number includes only the family necessities. This means expenditures dedicated to entertainment, vacations, personal items aren’t included.
Still, these numbers would mean you can redeem economy tickets in two years-time. That being said, people with average annual expenses of around half a million pesos will more than double these points, giving them more redemption options!
Take this into consideration. A First Class flight from Manila to Singapore on February 13 (assuming this is for a Valentine’s day vacation) would cost USD 1,635.88, which is around PHP83,000. On the other hand, this same flight only costs 27,500 KrisFlyer miles. Assuming you have a Metrobank Travel Platinum Visa, you would need 68,750 card points to afford that 27,500 KrisFlyer miles. To get this, you need to charge PHP1,375,000 worth of expenses over three years to your credit card.
If you think that you’ve charged around PHP1,400,000 on your Metrobank Travel Platinum Visa within three years, then congratulations! You have enough points to afford a Singapore Airlines First Class flight from Manila to Singapore!
Another option would be to buy a Business Class ticket and then upgrade it for only 15,000 KrisFlyer miles!
A Business Class ticket for the same route on the same day costs roughly PHP37,000. To collect 15,000 Krisflyer miles using your Metrobank Travel Platinum Visa, you should have charged at least PHP750,000 on it for the past three years.
Now this shows that you can get a First Class flight for free or by paying half its original price!
Sign Up for Multiple Credit Cards
Although this isn’t exactly as game-changing as using one, having multiple credit cards can help you maximize the points that you collect. Bear in mind that some credit cards have multipliers for different expenses. Some give you double, triple, or even quadruple the points you would usually gain when you use it for very specific transactions.
The more credit cards you have, the more accessible flight deals, promos, and the like are to you. Keep in mind that most of the time, banks release limited-time promos for seat sales.
The most notable among them are BDO and Citibank. They regularly post flight deals with different partner airlines. Aside from that, they also promote sales and discounts with some stores and restaurants. They give you many opportunities to spend wisely, thus collecting more points.
You can check out our cards page for the credit cards that we value very highly.
Aside from that, some credit cards in the Philippines offer signup bonuses, particularly co-branded credit cards. For example, the PNB-PAL Mabuhay Miles World Mastercard provides a welcome gift of 2,000 Mabuhay Miles upon activation and a bonus 10,000 miles after spending PHP100,000 on PAL transactions.
Another co-branded card recently unveiled to the public is the EastWest Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer World Mastercard. They’ll give a welcome bonus of 6,000 KrisFlyer Miles once you reach PHP200,000 worth of expenditures within three months after card activation and an Anniversary bonus of 15,000 miles when you reach PHP200,000 spend within 12 months from the card approval date.
The only things that you should keep track of when you have multiple credit cards are the conditions and point-to-mile ratios of each card.
Some credit cards make it easy for you to earn miles but can only be used in one frequent flyer program. These are mostly co-branded credit cards such as the two mentioned above.
Other credit cards let you earn through a decent conversion rate while giving you many options to convert it into. Citibank Premier Miles, Metrobank Travel Platinum Visa, and the HSBC Platinum Visa are prominent examples of this.
When it comes to point collection, some cards have interesting gimmicks to them.
One good example is the HSBC Platinum Visa with its Accelerated Rewards Program. In it, they let you earn 4 bonus points for every PHP20.00 spent. That’s PHP5 for 1 point. Out front, this is probably the best conversion rate there is!
That is until you read that the accelerated rewards are in effect for a maximum of PHP60,000 each month.
PHP60,000 will earn you 12,000 points through the accelerated rewards. Without it, PHP60,000 will earn only 3,000 points. Which is very inefficient when compared to the accelerated rewards program. Luckily this resets each month. You can get as many as 144,000 HSBC reward points a year only when you only take advantage of the accelerated rewards.
Take note: The more credit cards you have, the more disciplined and responsible you should be regarding your finances.
It can be very tempting to use your credit cards for unnecessary expenses just for the sake of it. So you should always be careful about getting too many credit cards.
On the flip side, if you’re disciplined enough with how you handle your finances, then even with 10 or more credit cards, you won’t get tempted to overuse them!
Remember, the miles you earn are free so long as the money you spend is for your everyday needs. When you buy something just for the sake of getting miles, or just because you can afford to, then you’re not being efficient with your mile collection.
Funnel Your Flights
It’s better to have all of your miles in one frequent flyer program instead of having them in between three or more carriers. Bear in mind that the more miles you have with a single airline, the better the flights that you can redeem.
It’s better to have 120,000 miles in one of either Mabuhay Miles, KrisFlyer, or Asia Miles, instead of having 40,000 in each of them.
That’s because with 120,000 miles you can already redeem:
10 Economy flights or 5 Business Class flights from Manila to Singapore through Mabuhay Miles;
9 Economy flights or 5 Business Class flights, 3 First Class flights from Manila to Singapore through KrisFlyer
12 Economy flights, 4 Business Class flights or 3 First Class flights from Manila to Hong Kong through Asia Miles
With 40,000 miles, you can only get:
3 Economy flights or 1 Business Class flights from Manila to Singapore through Mabuhay Miles;
3 Economy flights or 1 Business Class flights, 1 First Class flights from Manila to Singapore through KrisFlyer
5 Economy flights or 2 Business Class flights or 1 First Class flights from Manila to Hong Kong through Asia Miles
By putting the majority, if not all, of your miles onto one frequent flyer program, you open the doors to more opportunities and better seat classes.
This is especially true with airlines that are part of airline alliances. But that’s a topic for another day.
Splitting your airline miles will also make it more troublesome for you to keep track of them. Take note that some mileage programs have airline miles that can expire. When you have all of your miles in one mileage program, it’s easier to monitor, and of course, easier to use.
Contrary to the second point in this article, you might also want to opt to use just one or two credit cards so you can stash all of your points there. Different airlines and credit cards have different expiration dates for their miles and points. Citi Reward Points lasts for five years while Krisflyer Miles only lasts for three.
Keep these in mind to prevent yourself from suddenly losing points and miles that you were saving up for the future!
Research for the Best Deals and Offers
Sometimes it’s not enough that you just work with the discounts that are provided to you by the banks or the seat sales that airlines say are available online. You need to actively look for the next big promo or deal where you can get more by spending less.
Opt not to buy a certain appliance that you’re looking for just yet until it goes out on sale. Better yet, research that appliance and see if you can buy it through an online shopping portal that lets you get cash rebates or bonus points.
For airline flights, don’t just settle for the seat sales posted by banks and airlines. Sometimes they don’t give out every seat there is. Call them and see if you can find better seats or better prices whenever you can.
The less you pay for things, the more you will gain. This is because no matter what the expense, as long as you pay for it with one of your credit cards, you will still earn a few airline miles.
Take advantage of every sale that you see. But don’t go at it blindly. Bear in mind that some sales are just marketing schemes. You can prevent being dragged into one of these by always researching about the things that you will buy.
The journey to becoming great mileage collectors is all about patience and discipline. You should be willing to collect miles for a long time, taking advantage of every sale that you see, and budgeting your finances for the long haul.
In the end, you will be able to collect enough miles to fly freely without spending anything extra from your regular expenditure
Earn Through Flying
As we’ve mentioned, other than using your credit card, you can earn miles through the flights that you book. In fact, flying was the primary way to earn miles in the past.
As long as you’re part of their frequent flyer programs, you will earn a set amount of points depending on the seat class or the distance that you’ve flown.
Here’s how you earn miles with the three frequent flyer programs that are best suitable for Filipinos:
For PAL Mabuhay Miles, you can find out how many miles you earn through their accrual chart.
What you need to take note of the most is that most airline mileage programs are revenue-based. This means you’ll earn more when you buy a higher class seat, even when compared to some lower class seats for farther flights.
Fortunately, most credit cards give you bonus miles or multipliers when paying for airline tickets. That means not only will you earn miles through the mileage program, but you’ll also earn points based on how much the ticket is. That’s still more miles for you to use in the future!
One thing that you should remember, however, is that you can’t earn miles for flights that you redeemed. This is a common misconception around first-time mile collectors. The sooner you know about this, the better.
This is not as crucial as an option as the other points. It’s incredibly inefficient unless there’s a sale ongoing. Buying miles should be a last resort as it’s going against the fact that we are not shelling out just to get miles.
Most, if not all, airlines have their miles for sale, but very seldom do they get discounted to a feasible price. One of our most cost-effective flight happened with us taking advantage of a mileage sale. You can read the review of it here!
A 25% discount on miles is not something to ignore. It can really make your trip that much more inexpensive, especially if they are sold in small bundles!
There are also some exceptions to the rule, but that depends on the situation that you are in. if you’re short on miles for a flight that you’ve always wanted to have, and you have no other means to get miles on a short period of time, you should consider buying miles.
Think of it this way, because you’re only paying for the miles that you lacked, then you can say that the price of those miles will be the whole price of your flight! That’s still a really cost-effective way of flying!
Other Mile-Earning Activities
When it comes to earning miles, the most common and most efficient ways to do so involve using your credit card for your everyday expenditures, getting multiple credit cards, taking advantage of promos and deals, and of course, flying.
But there are other ways to collect miles using your credit card. You can say that it falls under the first point, but they’re still worth mentioning here as they can greatly help in building up your stack of miles!
AIrlines are usually partnered up with multiple companies, businesses, and restaurants. When you dine in these partnered establishments, you can earn miles and bonus points. You can find the restaurants that airlines are partnered with within their respective websites.
You can also get bonus credit card points by dining in some of their partner restaurants. They work similarly to the partnerships mentioned above. And you can see partners or promos and discounts for specific restaurants or chains of restaurants on the bank’s website.
Some airlines are partnered with a few hotels. The reward points for these hotels can be transferred to frequent flyer programs for a different conversion rate. Aside from hotels, there are serviced residences and some resorts that are also partnered with them. Bear in mind that different accommodations earn you miles in different ways.
Flying into a different country without any form of transport can be bothersome. Luckily some airlines are partnering with multiple car-rentals that make it easier for people to get access to vehicles and such. Again, each car-rental has a different way of earning miles for you.
Other more specific activities can earn you miles such as investing, going to a spa, and shipping items. All of which appeal to select people.
Earning miles is a quest in and of itself. It doesn’t happen overnight, and you can’t expect to feel it’s worth until you collect thousands of it. However, if you’re able to collect enough and experience that first premium flight, it’s very hard to go back.
Keep in mind our picks for the best ways to earn miles. Note that you don’t necessarily have to do everything listed here to start your mile collection, however, if you want to be as efficient as possible when it comes to your mileage collection, then you might want to use most of them.
Hopefully this article has helped in your journey to collect miles! Though it’s general information, we’ve listed down the core of what you should do to maximize your airline miles in the Philippines! For more about air-travel related content, check out The Pointsboys!